Demonetization debate likely to hot up Winter Session, Didi to knock on President’s door

New Delhi: A Congress-led opposition came together seeking to pin down the government on the demonetisation issue in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning tomorrow but a consenses eluded on TMC’s proposed march to Rashtrapati Bhawan for meeting the President. The leaders will meet again tomorrow to finalize the strategy on the issue agreeing at the meeting to use “all parliamentary tools including a demand for constituting a joint parliamentary committee to go into the issue and hold the government to account.

On its part, TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her party will go ahead with its plans to meet the President tomorrow. Representatives of the National Conference and AAP are likely to accompany the TMC delegation.

At a meeting of 13 opposition parties including arch rivals TMC and CPI-M, besides BSP, SP, JD-U and DMK, opposition leaders unanimously concluded that it was too early to visit the President on the issue which must first be raised adequately in parliamentary forums. Various parties have separately given adjournment notices in Lok Sabha and for suspension of proceedings in Rajya Sabha to discuss the issue and highlight the plight of the common man.

“So far as the march is concerned, there was unanimous decision by everybody that the march tomorrow is too early. As an opposition party, we must have a march in due course of time, but not on the very first day. On first day of Parliament, we must hold a discussion inside the House.

“There was an overwhelming consensus that there is no need to rush to Rashtrapati Bhawan on the very first day before bringing this issue before Parliament,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said after the meeting. Azad said had the Parliament not been in session, the opposition would have gone to meet the President, but as the two Houses were meeting from tomorrow the issue should first be discussed and raised there. He said whatever the opposition members demanded if those were not not fulfilled other options can be used.

Azad also sought to corner the government by alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had disclosed the move to his partymen and not adhered to the principle of confidentiality. He claimed it was a “big scam” which needed to be probed.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said government will have to allow the common people to use old currency notes for all white transactions till the time alternative arrangements are made. He also dubbed the move as “Tughlaq raj” (dictatorship), while taking a dig at the Modi government. He replied in the negative when asked if the TMC’s proposal for a march to Rashtrapati Bhawan was taken up at the meeting.

His colleague Mohammed Salim alleged that there have been huge transactions in cash by leaders of BJP since April and termed it as a “currency scam” that needs to be probed.

“We will unearth this currency scam and taken on the government. Prime Minister’s step of trying to help them is actually insulting the common man, including his mother who had to stand in the queue (to withdraw money),” Salim said.

Asked about the opposition’s strategy for taking on the government on demonetisation, Salim said, “We will seek all alternative tools in a democracy, including a demand for constituting a joint parliamentary committee to go into the issue and hold the government to account”. Yechury earlier said, “We are not demanding withdrawal of the move, but it should not be rolled out in this manner. We will raise this issue tomorrow as crores of people are being put to trouble and inconvenience. We are told some 25 people have committed suicide. We are telling the government that till alternative arrangements are made, all white transactions be allowed in old currency.”

Yechury said the Left governments in Kerala and Tripura have already written to the Centre for allowing the states to transact in old currency till December 31.

He said government should do something so that the people get some relief and are not harassed. JD-U’s Sharad Yadav said leaders of all parties will again meet tomorrow to further finetune their strategy on the issue.

Among those who attended the meeting included Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma, CPI-M’s Mohammed Salim, P Karunakaran and Yechury, NCP’s Tariq Anwar, RJD’s Prem Chand Gupta and Jaiprakash Narain Yadav, CPI’s D Raja and JD-U’s Sharad Yadav. Others present included TMC’s Nadimul Haque, SP’s Dharmendra yadav, BSP’s Satish Chandra Misra, DMK’s Kanimozhi and JMM’s Sanjeev kumar, besides RSP’s N K Premchandran.